"By leveraging our physical stores and the Walmart app, we're changing the returns game in ways that only Walmart can do", said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president, Walmart Services and Digital Acceleration, possibly taking a swipe at Amazon, which even with the addition of 465 Whole Foods stores and the 85 Kohl's locations now accepting Amazon returns, has limited physical locations where goods can be returned. Nearly one-third of items ordered online are returned, compared with just 8 percent of things bought in physical stores, according to Optoro Inc., which works for Wal-Mart's e-commerce unit Jet.com to process returns.
Looking ahead, store purchases will be integrated into the program in early 2018.
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The reinvented return service continues Wal-Mart's efforts to make shopping more convenient for customers by integrating its vast network of physical stores with growing digital capabilities.
Starting next month through Walmart's app, customers will be able to scan goods they no longer want with their own smartphone and drop it off at a customer service desk. The company is introducing a new in-store returns service that will speed up the return process for the item sold and shipped by Walmart.com.
In its own efforts, Walmart has embarked on dozens of new launches and test in the a year ago or so to speed up the shopping experience for online shoppers. Wal-Mart will also instantly credit customers for returns of some items without having to bring them back at all. Along that line, the retail giant has announced a new, easier and faster system that it claims will reinvent the return process at retail. Returning those items for one reason or another, not so much.
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The "keep it" policy will initially apply to household items like shampoo, cosmetics and cleaning supplies with others added over time. The option also includes items that are damaged.
According to a survey of 1,000 online shoppers, 75 percent say they've returned clothing and accessories before.
And bucking the trend in a retail industry where many rivals are paring their store fleets, Walmart said it plans to open a few more stores: it expect to open fewer than 15 SuperCenters in the US next year, a small uptick to be sure, but additional physical facilities to support its roughly $15 billion a year e-commerce business.
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